15th Oct2021

‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race 3×04’ Review

by Rhys Payne

In last weeks episode, we saw the elimination of two fan-favourite queens who I personally thought would have gone much further in the competition. It was announced that Victoria Scone would not be returning to the show after damaging her knee during a winner lip-sync in episode one. Veronica Green ended up in the bottom two in the camp design challenge and was beaten in the lip-sync against Vanity Milan. I always think that it is slightly unfair if a queen ends up in the bottom after they have spent a lot of time during the design challenges helping other people. There wasn’t even an acknowledgement on the runway by the queens or by Ru about how kind and helpful Veronica was being during this challenge and instead she was sent home. I also don’t think that Veronica was able to show the true extent of what she can do on Drag Race as she is a very talented vocalist/performer but there was no opportunity before her elimination to really showcase this. However, the lip-sync between Veronica and Vanity was one of the best so far in this season! I personally thought that this performance was deserving of the elusive double save but alas it was Veronica who was asked to leave the race. On the other end of the completion, last weeks episode really allowed Scarlett Harlett to shine – which until this point she hasn’t really. She was incredibly funny during the tinder bio video mini-challenge and her pink and yellow blanket gown that she made was absolutely stunning! Scarlett was rightfully declared as the winner of last weeks episode but this week truly was her fall from grace (but more on that later!)

Episode four of this season started with Ru announcing that this week’s episode was all about pop groups! These musical challenges in Drag Race UK are usually the high points of the season with hits such as “Break up Bye Bye” by the Frock Destroyers and “UK Hun” by the United KingDolls (both of which both frequently appear on my going to work playlist!) both coming from this branch of the franchise so the bar was set extremely high. The queens were divided into two teams that were selected by the winner of last weeks episode (Scarlett) and the survivor of last weeks episode (Vanity) with the former choosing Crystal Versace, Kitty Scott-Clause and Charity Case with the group name The Slice Girls. The other team was made up of River Medway, Choriza May, Ella Veday and Vanity and were called Pick and Mix. Both groups were given the same song titled “BDE (Big Drag Energy)” with ‘The Slice Girls” having the more upbeat and energetic version of the song. Vanity’s team were given a slower and emotional ballad which was repeatedly referred to as the more boring one and more difficult to perform which, in all honesty, I don’t totally agree (and spoiler alert neither did the judges!) What I really enjoyed about this episode was the fact that there was a central idea that ran through the entire episode. There was a surprise appearance by the iconic pop band Steps who were there to help the queens choreograph and record their original verses. Funny story … I once went on a night out with H from Steps after bumping into him, John Barrowman and Matt Avers (who was dancing with H during his time on Dancing on Ice) and we ended up in a VIP section in live lounge! The special guest judge this week was Emma Bunton, who is probably most famous for being Baby Spice in the pop band the Spice Girls and the lip-sync song was one of their greatest hits. Additionally, the runway category this week was also inspired by the Spice Girls. I really enjoy it when Drag Race creates a theme that runs through the entirety of the episode and brings in judges that are relevant to the challenges that the queens are doing, as it just makes for a much more smooth and easy to follow viewing experience.

Now with all that in mind, is either version of BDE a track that I’m going to download into my playlist and listen to it on repeat … probably not. The bar for the girl group numbers has been set so high due to the success of previous original songs, that the show realistically was setting itself up to fail at some point. However, I do hold up hope for the finale song challenge as the last two seasons have had incredible numbers halfway through the seasons but the final songs have been incredibly lacklustre so hopefully, this season will do the complete opposite! The Slice Girls version of this song was so extremely cheesy and pop-inspired which should have made it the perfect catchy song. I thought that Krystal looked incredible during this challenge where she wore a gorgeous mirrored bodysuit and strutted across the stage with so much energy! I think that Krystal knows her brand and wants to stick to it as much as possible as her lyrics were all about being fierce and beautiful, which has been a running theme for her, but I do think that the judge may be starting to get bored of this character. Every week I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Kitty Scott-Clause, as for me she is the epitome of British drag. I however was concerned when she declared that in the ‘real world’ she is a member of two girl groups as this usually means she is going to fall victim to the “I do this for a living so I should win this challenge” curse. Luckily however she did not and her wonderfully camp fast spoken word verse was very entertaining! Unfortunately, I do have to talk about Scarlett’s performance, who seemed to be totally down beat through the majority of the episode. She delivered probably one of the worst lip-syncs to her verse that I have ever seen but what made this even worse was that she got so defeated after this had happened. For the Pick and Mix team, I thought that Ella was an incredible vocalist with her verse contain for wonderful sounding runs. The person I was most surprised with however was River Medway! She showcased energy during the performance that I have not seen from her before with surprisingly good vocals. Her verse was also a dedication to her mum who sadly lost her life recently from Covid-19. I also thought that Choriza deciding to sing a large section of her verse in Spanish was great to see on TV!

The runway theme this week was “The Night of 1000 Spice Girls” and I can’t tell if this was supposed to be a Spice Girl inspired outfit or the queens were supposed to recreate one of their iconic looks. Krystal walked the run was in an incredible homage to Baby Spice herself, where she looked both fashion-forward and adorable at the same time; whereas Charity had created a leopard look that, don’t get me wrong looked absolutely incredible, but was inspired by Mel B’s love of leopard print. It was great to see how Charity interpreted the brief but I personally don’t know whether it fitted the challenge or not. The judges must have thought that this was not acceptable as both Charity and Scarlett ended up in the bottom which I agree with! It was also announced that team “Pick and Mix” were the winners this week and so they all get one of those badges. If it was up to me I think I would have announced the team as the winners (as there were slightly better) but awarded the solo win to River! After both Scarlett and Charity had finished their lip-sync it was announced that this week no one would be going home and instead they were both safe which I don’t think was the best choice. I know that two queens technically went home last week so a double save was pretty much guaranteed at some point in this season but I thought that last lip-sync was miles better than this one, so that should have been the same one where no one went home.

Overall this episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK was a bit disappointing due to the standard of girl group challenges in previous seasons. However, I loved that the creative minds behind this project had carefully thought about the runway, challenges and guests to create a cohesive episode.

***½  3.5/5

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